Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Calling Donald Trump Crazy is an Insult to Those with Mental Illness

I've had an op-ed piece published on PsychCentral that concerns the impact on the stigma against those with mental illness that can result from the political actions of mental health professionals.  The group in question is called Duty to Warn and has collected a large number of signatures on a petition calling for the ouster of the president.  As the editors of PsychCentral note, there is some debate over who has actually signed this petition.  John Gartner, PhD, the organizer of Duty to Warn, maintains that the signatories are people practicing in the field of mental health.  A look at the petition on Duty to Warn's website reveals that, although the form asks for credentials, ultimately, anyone can sign it.

Despite the debated number of doctors and therapists on the petition, the fact remains that by taking the position that, "acting like that he must be crazy; so he has to go," when commenting on a person with no assessed diagnosis can only set back the efforts of people who are diagnosed and seek to do well in their jobs.

Please have a look at the article and let me know what you think.  You can find it here:

Pathologizing the President

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Be in Touch

If you'd like to contact me with comments, suggestions, or just to reach out, find me at:

contact@practicingmentalillness.com

Monday, October 9, 2017

Fighting the Stigma of Mental Illness and Violence by Stepping Up

It’s impossible to write a blog about mental illness without confronting the violence that has descended on this country all too often.  Too many innocent victims have fallen at the hands of too many offenders to set the issue aside.  My heart bleeds for the victims lost and the loved ones remaining.  Nothing written can take away the pain of the survivors.  But a call to action may help to prevent such crimes from continuing.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Anger and the Limits of Acceptance

One of the doctrines of meditation, especially Buddhist inspired meditation, is radical acceptance.  Often misunderstood, at its root lies the need to experience things as they are, not bound by judgment, opinion, or our desire to change things to better suit our expectations.  Also informing many people’s meditation practice is the Buddhist idea that an attachment to anger is one of the causes of suffering, again colored by judgment, opinion, and a desire to change.  Desire itself, or an attachment to desire, is cited as another cause of suffering.   Not accepting things as they are, wanting them to be different, can cause us great emotional distress.

But what if our experience itself is unacceptable?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Moving Toward Creativity

Much of the recent focus on mindfulness and meditation has been on stress management.  Few things help one deal better with the stressors of everyday life.  About 20 minutes of meditation each day can reduce blood pressure, improve sleep, and mitigate the severity of episodes and symptoms of mental illnesses.  But there is more.  Meditation can quiet the mind, and a quieter mind is more likely to have room for new and better ideas about the challenges one faces in life, business, and art.

Researchers at the Institute for Psychological Research and Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition of Leiden University in the Netherlands found a tremendous impact of focused-attention (mindfulness) and open-monitoring meditation (observing without judging) on creativity.  “First, open-monitoring meditation induces a control state that promotes divergent thinking, a style of thinking that allows many new ideas of being generated (sic).  Second, Focused Attention meditation does not sustain convergent thinking, the process of generating only one possible solution to a particular problem.”  Meditation can promote more ideas.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

I'd Rather Be Fishing

I’m not the fishing type. Sure, the idea of standing in running water in the mountains casting flies sounds wonderful.  But I live in the city and like it.  And I don’t like fish.

However, for the last week I’ve been obsessed with fly-fishing.  My wife, daughter, and I spent a weekend in the Berkshires, and we’ve all been caught up in the idea of leaving the city and retiring to a rural area.  At least I have.  My wife is more partial to beaches.  My daughter is three.  She wants to be wherever she is.  I’ve always been drawn to the imagined solitude of rural life:  Farms, pastures, groves of trees, rivers, lakes, and fly-fishing.  Yes, I’m hypomanic right now.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bored to Tears

Just a few days ago I realized I was bored with the internet and my mobile devices.  Together they have contributed to my font of trivial knowledge.  But it has been a very long time since I delved deeply enough into a topic to fully understand it, or to contribute to it with original ideas.  And perhaps most important, I have been losing my sense of nuance.  All discourse seems to fall on one side or the other.  Intellectually I have been anything but mindful.  In fact, the constant barrage of information, updates, and check-ins, and the 24-hour availability of me and everyone I know have turned me into a cognitive fight or flight machine.